I must tell you of a change I have noticed within myself over the past 3 months. Starting in July I began making visits to Church during the week. At first I would just pop into Church and sit in the pew, say a few prayers and then leave to go to work or I would stop on the way home from work and make a quick visit. As the weeks began to pass, I noticed that I began visiting almost on a daily basis. Sometimes I will visit twice, once on the way to work and then on the way home from work if the Church is still open. I feel a vacuum on my soul when I near the vicinity of Church, I feel if I am in town I ‘need’ to stop by Church and say hello to God, to see how his day has been (smiles) and to ask him to bless my day. If I don’t make that visit, I feel like I am missing out on sharing an intimate moment with God and that I am in some way ‘letting him down’ by not stopping by. The feeling I experience when I pass by Church without stopping in, is similar to the feeling I get when I drive by a friend or family member and don’t say hello to them even while they are waving at me. Simply put, I feel compelled to visit as many times as I can now. And that feeling is only growing within me, it is something that I haven’t really experienced before to this degree.
While in my parish office this month I was speaking to one of the ladies about making frequent visits to Church, before I could finish the sentence the lady butted in with “I just don’t get why some people feel they must go to God for everything! They must have little faith or trust in themselves if they feel they must go in Church and talk to God about every decision they make.” Quite frankly I was a little taken back by her comment and total lack of understanding of why people go to God before making decisions or otherwise. She has no idea what is in a person’s heart that may be visiting Church. I didn’t even bother finishing my sentence at that point, I heard the words of my spiritual director ringing in my ears as I left the building “Don’t give that which is holy to the dogs, neither throw your pearls before the pigs, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. - Matthew 7:6“. I was hurt by her venomous attack and I stopped by Church on the way to my car and said a prayer for her. =)
One of the things that I have noticed during these last few months is that I am changing and growing a deep faith in Christ. Upon returning from the Monastery last year my faith was in such shambles my soul might have resembled an old coat you would find at your thrift store. I turned to technology as a way to escape the pain I was feeling. I began playing my old video game system for 4-8 hrs a day when I wasn’t working and on nights that I did work, I would play for 3-4 hrs on average. I immersed myself in ‘noise’ so that I could no longer feel anything. I would go to Church each week and sometimes stop by the Church to say hi to God, but for the most part my faith was on the rocks. I was so very angry about what happened and I was furious at my former order. It took almost entirely the whole of last year to recover and begin to grow deep in my faith again, in fact I can say without a doubt that I am deeper now in my faith than I have been in many years, including in some ways those times that I spent in religious life. During my frequent visits each week to Church I have felt a call to love God in ways that I have never known. The call to a deeper prayer life is something that is on my mind almost every day now. A few weeks ago I purchased a war chest of spiritual books which include Fire Within, The Cloud of Unknowing and Other Works, The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living, The Dark Night of the Soul, and St. Teresa’s Interior Castle. I began what will be a lifetime journey in prayer, this isn’t something that one can learn in a few books or over a few months. Although it will take me many years to discern and learn to pray adequately, what a glorious journey it will be!! My heart leaps at the very thought of learning the 9 levels of prayer and growing closer to Our Lord through them.
While I have been growing closer to God through prayer, I have noticed subtle changes in my own life. When I get angry I have in the past thought some not-so-good words in my head and have let a few of them escape my lips without thinking much of it. As of late, I have been really trying not to allow myself to think of those words or say them.. sometimes it’s an uphill battle for me. However when I now hear other people curse I feel it as a stinging blow. I know that may not make much sense, perhaps it will to you. I started a new job two weeks ago and from day one all of the employees use the absolute worst language, that is including management. On the first day of the job one of the managers got angry with the way a customer talked to her, so she (the manager) stormed the office where I was taking training videos and dropped the ‘F’ word at the minimum of 8 times in two sentences. Since then I have heard just about every curse word spoken on every day that I work. It is disheartening to be subjected to that type of language every single day and the work ethic reflects what is in the heart and soul of the workers. I also asked that I could have Sunday off because of religious purposes and at my request my manager replied thus in a very condescending tone “Obviously you have not worked retail before because when you work retail you never get Sunday’s off and I will NOT give you that day off”. It was the first that in my life that a manager or place of business has not honored my religious freedom. I have worked retail for many years and have never been required to work on Sunday. Needless to say, when I make my visits to Church, I pray for all my fellow employee’s that God will bless them abundantly with many graces and most especially for this manager that has taken a particular liking to ridiculing me in front of my fellow employees, of whom have noticed the level of hate that this particular person has for me in only the few weeks that I have been working there.
In all of this I know that God has great plans for me and he did bring me to this job for a reason. Perhaps I am to share my faith with these people and help them to understand and get to know Christ as he wants them to know HIM. I find that the things that once brought me joy in life be it video games, movies, tv shows, ect… these don’t hold a candle to the joy I get when I visit Jesus in HIS Blessed Sacrament. And that is a very good thing. I believe I am now on a new journey and am ‘Dying to Meet God’, as I die to the world and it’s frivolous pleasures, I am beginning a new life in Christ which I hope will blossom like a lily at the altar of our merciful Lord.
If you can and have time, stop by each week and make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Even if you only have 2-5 minutes, just go into the Church and say a few words to God or just listen in quiet and let him work within your soul. I hope you will join me on my journey to interior prayer as I post my 9 blogs on the 9 different levels to interior prayer. Below is an excerpt from the book “My Daily Bread” on making frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament:
Jesus says to us:
My Child, if My true presence on the altar were limited to one place alone, many people from all parts of the world would try to visit that place at some time or other in their lives. Yet, now that I have made it easy for all to come to Me, see how many visit Me only when they are obliged!
Many people are so cold toward me. Like children they are impressed only by what they can touch and see. I have given them their greatest treasure in the Blessed Sacrament. Through My apostles and their successors, I have promised to be personally present wherever the Blessed Sacrament is. Make EVERY effort to be deeply impressed by this greatest of all earthly gifts.
It is not enough for you to believe in My real presence upon the altar. I placed Myself there for love of you. I wanted to be near you in some visible way, so that you might visit Me as often as you wished. You should wish it as often as possible.
People come to ME for different reasons. Some come only on Sundays and holy days, through a sense of obligation. Either they do not want to lose Heaven, or they desire My help in their daily life. Then there are those who come to Me through mere habit. They act automatically, without any particular devotion to Me. There are, however, a certain number who come to Me for the best reason. They come because they are glad to be near Me. These people please Me best of all. They receive many extra graces which are not granted to the others.
Consider how devoted My saints were to Me. They seized every opportunity to visit Me and stay with Me. They desired to abandon all useless interests so that they might have more time with Me. In return for this generosity with Me, they received a clearer understanding of My boundless goodness and a deeper appreciation of My infinite love.
You, too, have the opportunity to give Me more of your time and attention. Make a greater effort to come closer to Me in friendship. You have the privilege of kneeling before Me like the simple, wonderful shepherds; the tired, admiring Magi; the suffering, begging leper; the penitent, hopeful Magdalene; the convinced, converted Thomas. How are you taking advantage of this privilege?
How much easier it will be for you to face Me in your judgment if you have loved to face Me often during your earthly life. Each visit to Me is an act of faith, of love, and of self-purification. Come to Me often, so that I may shower more of My gifts upon your soul.
And we should think:
One who neglects Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament hurts himself/herself more than he/she realizes. By frequent visits I come closer to that wonderful union with God which He desires to grant me in my daily life. Each visit can bring me nearer to Him in true friendship. I need no special formula, no particular prayers, no unusual requirements. All that I need is to present myself before Him, talking if I so wish, listening if I am so disposed, or simply staying with Him. He is more interested in me than anyone else. Though I may feel very dull, He is interested in my thoughts, my desires, my needs, hopes, ambitions, efforts, and labors. My daily life is a matter of the highest importance to Him. He is glad to see me come because each visit gives Him another excuse to grant me more blessings. He is there for love of me. I ought to visit Him often for love of Him.
My Jesus, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, I have not shown You half the appreciation which I owe You. Grant me the grace to grow in this appreciation. You deserve far more attention than I have shown You. How often could I come to You with a slight effort or even inconvenience to myself! Yet, I fail to do so. I do not treat my human friends half so neglectfully as I treat You. This sacrament is a living proof of your love for me. I hope to show my love for you by a greater devotion toward You from now on. You will see me more than just once a week. As often as I am reasonably able, I shall visit You. I want to give You more of my attention, my time, my interest, and my life. AMEN